The Conlectio Newsletter
Three Things That Make Me Crazy (And Two That Don't)
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Hi friend!
There are three lines in modern Christianity that make me crazy.
  1. Theology is manmade religion.
  2. If you think you can mess up God's plan for your life, you're not big enough for that.
  3. Just pray more! [but I won't teach you how]
And here is why.
  1. Theology is the study of the nature of God AND your particular worldview/perspective on God. Everyone has a theology. So the person who says “theology is manmade religion" is, in fact, admitting his own manmade theological framework: I don't need biblical theology, I only need my own ideas about theology. While there are myriad problems with this view, I'll concentrate on two: first, our understanding of God must come from an objective standard of morality or we are left with subjective “truth”. This is the stuff Kant, Lewis, Strobel, Geisler and all the great philosopher-apologists have hashed out for years. Secondly, of all major religions, the most “manmade” of them all is salad-bar Christianity: “I'll take a little of this Jesus, with a dash of Buddhism, some full-moon-coven vibes for fun, and a Bible verse when it feels right.” is more man-made than any Christian theological framework before. And lastly - for kicks - the theology of the Bible is consistent from Genesis to Revelation. That's what makes it unique. The same God inspired multiple writers to the same essential thought and story. Unlike Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, and even Islam, where only one prophet received the ‘truth’ unaccountable to the community, the Christian gospel was received by many and carried by many, remaining true to its core message throughout the process. Biblical theology is not manmade, but it is man-witnessed - and that is one reason it is so powerful.
  2. Can you mess up God's plan for your life? Yes and no. The line above sounds good, but it is not grounded in the truth about sin, redemption, and grace. In fact, it's a slogan for cheap grace: I can do what I want, and God will always take me back.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer challenged this notion in The Cost of Discipleship: “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”  This is the “grace” of our present day - and it is not grace at all. It is a powerless echo of the real thing. The biblical reality is this: You ARE “big enough” to choose life-altering sin. Think about it: God tells us not to commit adultery and fornication. If we do, we reap the consequences - and these can be life-altering (unwed pregnancy or divorce or disease). He warns against them because He loves us and wants what is best. But just as He did in the Garden, God offers a choice. He will not coerce us into obedience. He lets us choose obedience out of trust in Him. All sin starts with distrust in God. God's perfect intent for us is for us to be safe within the guidance of His loving law, led by His Spirit. But we are not perfect and we can choose to walk outside His will. When we do, yes, we “mess up the plan”. But thanks be to God that's not the end of the story! We can repent, we can be forgiven, we can be restored, redeemed, and made new! But this privilege comes at a high, high cost: Jesus' life. This is grace, blood-bought to cover our life-altering, devastating choices. And we realize just how great that grace is, we dare not cheapen it by running back to who we were before. 
  3. Just pray more! Whether said in response to struggles with anxiety or fear or depression or chronic illness - most of us have heard this phrase from a well-meaning member of our congregations. It's so trite. And the truth is this: Prayer is power. Prayer is spiritual war. Prayer is healing. Prayer is the key to Christian life (the absolute center of life in Him). But… saying “just pray more” without teaching how? Utterly useless. Most people have not been taught to pray. They might toss up a “Dear God bless my Aunt Karen” once in a while or even ask God for relief from whatever pain they are experiencing, but they have not been taught how to persevere in intimacy, how to listen for His voice, how to acknowledge His specific leading, how to worship till your tears flow unhindered. They have been taught to list requests. They have not been taught to pray. Therefore, when the well-meaning congregant barks “just pray more” over the weeping wound of anxiety or illness - it is just one more pointless to-do. One more, “I don't hear you.” As someone who has a chronic illness and also faces anxiety, I can attest that prayer works, prayer is freedom, and prayer is key. But only if you know how to do it and you persevere in it. Words without discipleship mean nothing - it is better to show than to tell.
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That's what makes me crazy.
Now here are two quotes that don't. They are the reminders to my own soul of what is most important, what is vital to the walk of faith, and what to what I must return when distraction calls my name:
  1. "Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on Earth." - John Wesley
  2. “To pray is to change. All who have walked with God have viewed prayer as the main business of their lives. For those explorers in the frontiers of faith, prayer was no little habit tacked on to the periphery of their lives; it was their lives. It was the most serious work of their most productive years. Prayer – nothing draws us closer to the heart of God.” - Richard Foster
Here is the drumbeat; the call to arms. But it is not a call to anger and vitriol. It is a call to “fear nothing but sin”, “desire nothing but God”, and to make prayer “the main business of our lives”. It is truer than subjective, salad-bar Christianity. It is richer than the cheap “grace” of hedonism. It is deeper than the surface-level platitudes of “just pray more”.
It is the Christian life, for real.

Verity Conference Virtual!
Did you know you can stream Verity Conference from your home? YES! And for the first 45 “Verity Hosts” we have a special gift for you - everything you need to open your home to watch the sessions! 
More info on virtual tickets on the conference page!
On Social Media This Week
  • Instagram: @phyliciamasonheimer (also shared to FB)
    • Monday: Ask Anything on FB/IG
    • Tuesday: The Conlectio + Speaking Truth When Angry
    • Wednesday: Verity Episode: What I'm Reading
    • Thursday: Day in the Life
    • Friday: Book and product recs (IG)
  • Instagram: @willowsbendhomeschool
    • Monday: Homeschool Co-op + homeschool book list!
    • Tuesday: Homeschool Q/A
    • Wednesday: Farm and Nontoxic tutorials (as I can!)
    • Thursday: Off
    • Friday: Off
What I'm Reading
  • October's List… Each month I like to “reset” my reading list to the books I actually WANT to read. This usually means 1-2 audiobooks (Audible or Libby) and a pile of nonfiction books I can peruse at will. Here's what it's in my stack this October.
    • A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny (audiobook)
    • On Christian Liberty by Martin Luther
    • The Calling Journey (I forget the author - it's a workbook)
    • Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel
    • Loving Your Husband Well by Lisa Jacobson
    • The Messiah Comes to Middle Earth by Philip Ryken
    • What Cannot Be Lost by Melissa Zaldivar
    • Adorning the Dark by Andrew Peterson
What I'm Loving
  • Aldi Instacart: I can't say enough about Aldi pick up. It's just the best. I grab it after homeschool group every Monday and its good for the budget and for my time!
  • Michigan fall walks: The weather is PERFECT right now: 55-60 degrees, brilliant red trees, clear skies. I've taken a few walks the last few weeks, some with the kids and some alone. There is nothing like getting out in nature to bring focus and peace.
  • My latest thrift haul: Once a month I meet a friend for breakfast and then go thrifting. This time, I found a whole bunch of goodies:
    • An LL Bean tunic cable-knit sweater ($7)
    • A stack of children's books I needed
    • Wool socks for Ivan (25 cents each pair)
    • Magic Tree House books for our collection
    • Call the Midwife Season 1-2 ($6)
    • Luther (the movie - I love it! $1.50)
    • The softest lounge jump suit ($5)
    • A vintage set of Grimms Fairy Tales and Andersen's Fairy Tales. These were a bit more pricey at $9 each, but in such great shape and vintage… so worth it.
  • Our small group reading plan: Our small group recently decided to do a family reading plan together. We will all read a chapter of the New Testament a day at home, to our families, then discuss a chapter during our weekly gathering (when we have communion, eat together, and discuss the Word). We integrated the Bible reading into our dinners this week to get ready for starting the plan, and it's been a great source of discussion (prior to this we discussed Scripture memory and our children's bible readings at the table).
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On the Farm
  • Applesauce and apple butter! All the apples from our trees made a gallon of applesauce the first week and I'm still cooking. I plan to make apple butter this week and then turn it into this delish looking apple butter bread. 
  • Harvest party prep: Our annual homeschool harvest party is this weekend, so we're doing a lot of work on the grounds to get them ready for both winter AND the party: pinning down the garden tarps, cleaning up the rocks from our fire pit, raking apples, and mowing (that one is on Josh).
  • A freezer full of pork: The pigs are back from the butcher in nice white packages! I am often asked: is it cheaper to raise your own? Yes and no. Pork loin, bacon, and sausage is cheaper than buying the highest quality at the store. Chops are about the same. Just as with buying a cow (which we do every January, from our neighbor) the collective cost of the bulk meat makes the more expensive cuts cheaper, and you're getting higher quality meat for less. Is it cheaper than the Aldi cuts? No, but it tastes way better! 
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In Our Homeschool
  • On my @willowsbendhomeschool Instagram I shared how I locate books to accompany our studies. I hope to continue sharing read alouds we have loved as a place for easy access - Instagram is the easiest place for me right now (typing them up is a lot more work than taking a picture). 
  • We started Cycle 2, Week 6 in our Classical Conversations studies. This week we are studying the Renaissance, Shakespeare, Copernicus, and Michaelangelo; in science we are studying migration and hibernation.
  • A few movies we're watching for Renaissance studies:
    • The Taming of the Shrew (1967): Made the same year as Camelot, interestingly! I grew up on this movie. While definitely not politically correct (lol) it's an exposure to Shakespeare I appreciated in high school.
    • The Court Jester (1955): This Danny Kaye classic is hilarious.
  • What we cover in a homeschool day: Right now we do four days of schoolwork: Monday is co-op day, followed by schooling on T, W, and TH. Fridays are our catch-up day, or for field trips/nature walks. On our primary school days I cover:
    • Memory work: we go over all subjects for that week and review past weeks.
    • Phonics: Both Addie and Eva get a reading lesson with me.
    • Geography or Science: I do either geography map work or science reading.
    • Copywork: the girls do tracing worksheets and/or narration.
    • Math: Josh completes two full lessons of Math U See with each girl.
    • Read alouds: lots and lots of reading! We read so many books to supplement history, science and geography.
    • Extras: nature walks, chess, art piece review, and piano.
for the awakening, 

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